We’re all on a journey

John Rentoul

cover 3d Were all on a journeyWell, you can read it for yourself – it is particularly good value as an e-book from Amazon for £6.99 – but so far the wall of hate has been pretty much as expected here and in my article for The Independent this morning (I should never read the comments).

The main interest at first glance is Tony Blair’s explanation for why he put up with Gordon Brown’s nonsense for so long. It all comes down to this:

When it’s said that I should have sacked him, or demoted him, this takes no account of the fact that had I done so, the party and the government would have been severely and immediately destabilised, and his ascent to the office of prime minister would probably have been even faster.

It is a surprisingly blunt description of the political reality that Blair faced, and in effect an admission that his position was too weak to permit him to move against Brown.

The only bit that came as real news so far was the bit that surprised Alastair Campbell when he read the draft: the section on alcohol. The Daily Telegraph got a version retranslated back from another language edition this morning, but the there are only three paragraphs in the 691 pages, so here they are:

By the standards of days gone by I was not even remotely a toper, and I couldn’t do lunchtime drinking except on Christmas Day, but if you took the thing everyone always lies about – units per week – I was definitely at the outer limit. Stiff whisky or G & T before dinner, couple of glasses of wine or even half a bottle with it. So not excessively excessive. I had a limit. But I was aware it had become a prop.

As you grow older, your relationship with alcohol needs to be carefully defined. When young, you do drink to excess at points, but you go days without it. As you get on in life, it easily becomes a daily or nightly demand that your body makes on you for relaxation purposes. It is a relief to pressure. It is a stimulant. It can make a boring evening tolerable. But it plays a part in your life.

I could never work out whether for me it was, on balance, a) good, because it did relax me, or b) bad, because I could have been working rather than relaxing. I came to the conclusion – conveniently you might think – that a) beat b). I thought that escaping the pressure and relaxing was a vital part of keeping the job in proportion, a function rather like my holidays. But I was never sure. I believed I was in control of the alcohol. However, you have to be honest: it’s a drug, there’s no getting away from it. So use it with care, maybe; but never misunderstand its nature and be honest about its relationship to your life.

Seems pretty honest to me.

More, much more, later.

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  • Charles Barry

    You’re welcome.

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